70% Of Officers Have High Levels Of Fatigue

Police officers are overworked, understaffed and need the opportunity to take proper breaks, Hampshire Police Federation has said, as it emerged that nearly 70% of officers experienced high levels of fatigue.

The latest National Police Wellbeing Survey has found that, across England and Wales, a significant proportion of police officers (69.6%) and police staff (56.0%) were reporting high levels of fatigue, with very high levels experienced by 28.9% of officers and 20.7% of staff.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said the findings were worrying but not surprising, given the current state of policing.

She said: “This doesn’t come as a surprise at all. With the way policing’s been over the past 10 years, with so few officers, everyone’s having to work harder, with lots more enforced overtime and being kept on late. So the people working more hours have less time to rest.

“Obviously the situation would be helped by having more officers. But also I think – and this is easier to say than do – that we really need to make sure people are taking breaks during their working hours.

“Most officers, and I’m guilty of it as well, just don’t stop. We’ll grab something to eat, eat in the car driving to a job, eat at our desk while writing up a report, and very few police officers actually take any breaks during their shifts.

“That would be a start. But it’s really hard when you’ve got 999 calls coming in and you have to just drop everything. In my first few years of service, we did get meal breaks because there were enough of us, we had lots of officers on shift. And if you’ve got more officers then there’s less enforced overtime, because it can be shared between more people and there are fewer gaps to be filled.”

Zoë added that if officers started to take proper breaks, there would be less sickness in the force. She said: “If people are getting more rest, they have more time to eat a healthy meal, maybe take their dog for a walk, go to the gym. But when you’re just work, work, work, you don’t get a chance to do any of those things, and that’s when you get ill.”

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